JOHN IS A GREAT GUY
Alex is at his home; that’s where he’ll be, in his single bed, which is exactly the size of Ben’s.
In cases like this the second time is the real thing, the first time is spilled booze and confusion and pent-up petting and laughter, and cum, eventually. The second time, they’ve had seas of time, they spent the whole day together, Alex on his mysterious errands, Ben riding shotgun, or taking the wheel because he’s never driven a hybrid car. They won’t talk about sex of course (not theirs, at least), and they won’t talk about Alex taking pictures of Ben (or Romeo, for that matter), but they will talk about Alex’s amnesia, and about engineering. Ben, you’re at Georgia Tech, right? Good school, isn’t it, one of the best in the country; Ben is proud, and Alex is proud because Ben is proud. They talk about the harp bridges that Ben is going to build, and about girls and women—Alex half-apologizing for the ‘practical joke’ of the first outcall with Greta and Jane, and Ben cracking up (“practical joke”).
Alex might raise the subject of Ben’s other outcalls, but he won’t talk about the Knights, and they wouldn’t talk about John, except that John is a great guy, a great guy—Ben finishing Alex’s sentence (“a great guy”). A few days down the road they might share a joke about me, perhaps, when the dust has settled; this after Alex having talked about his soul again, how Ben, (you, Ben) found his (Alex’s) soul—yes, it could go that deep, both of them commanding an emotional depth that John sadly lacks. Terrible sentence.
So, a few days later they’ll have a serious conversation in simple terms, like ‘life,’ and ‘future,’ and ‘help,’ (Alex asking for help), and ‘love.’ There would be no need for mixed metaphors or spurious allusions to popular culture, the way John always gets it wrong, and then there is this innocent joke about me, so innocent that they kiss another French kiss as the punch line. And there would be no need for French words like ‘orientation,’ or ‘preference,’ or ‘bisexual.’ The joke, yes, the joke would be that they need a larger bed, the way John always needs a larger bed.
This joke seals their relationship, they realize, both smiling their sheepish smile at each other. Alex knows about the smile, and Ben has an inkling as well. Alex may reach for a little alpha-moment, like saying ‘ambiguity is a strength, not a weakness,’ and Ben answering, ‘unless one is writing code,’ and both dudes will love it. But we are not there yet.
We are still in the Prius, Alex giving directions. They both realize all too well that this is their second time, both reasonably sober still, honestly trying to kick bad habits and talking about Luke since the fridge is empty and they are on their way to his store. Ben’s cell goes off (speaking of the devil), but Ben’s concentrating on the traffic until the ring tone dies. They burst into Luke’s ice room (the coldest convenience store in the world), Luke himself behind the counter (the undead never sleep), Alex asking for a six pack and grinning with duplicitous conviction—Alex knows that Luke knows that they know that he knows and so forth. So, Luke doesn’t grin at all since he’s jealous, terribly jealous—almost as jealous as I am at this moment—and because he doesn’t dare to ask why Ben doesn’t answer his phone.
There’s still an off-chance they didn’t really do it on Tuesday night, too drunk, or spent, and this is their first time indeed. There’s a sense of absentmindedness as they scale the stairs to Alex’s pad. The stupid door’s jammed and kicked open, the A/C’s repaired, we know, Alex is off to the bathroom. Ben won’t sit down until Alex returns, he’s fussing with the nibbles they also bought from Luke. Dude is back from the john, and now we’re into quantum tunneling—it’s a matter of nanometers how much daylight will be left between them as they plop down on the mini couch. Serious conversation resumes. Alex is keen to talk about his problems with an engineer, somebody intelligent who can think things through, and Ben is keen to forget about the A-level shit and to please the smartest, handsomest, least-expected person of his life. Ben is smart, too, he’s minoring in philosophy, he’s much better than John at posing the right questions and helping Alex to find answers as to the relationship between introspection and soul—e.g., whether the term ‘soul’ makes sense here—until he cracks up with a solid ebony laugh, reminding Alex of his (Alex’s) perennial talk of Heaven—a place where body and soul come together like never before. He has this on good authority from Dr. Martin Luther Fletcher, his father, by coincidence.
We’ve reached a branching point even though the next iteration is the same. Ben cups Alex’s ears with both hands and applies a big smooch to dude’s lips.
Now the branching:
(1) If this is their first time, there will be uninhibited petting and groping until they reach Alex’s single bed about which Ben will briefly comment (“exactly like mine”), and then they make love.
(2) If this is their second time—more likely, alas—there wouldn’t be anything immediate, the kiss would be deeper, the lips wetter, but that’s all. They disengage and look at each other.
It’s real this time, Ben lost in admiration of Alex’s beauty—beauty here in the widest sense of the word, full Plato—and so it’s about Alex’s inner assets, his entire α-being. Alex reciprocates—not quite as platonic as we’d like (Ben’s body, skin, lips, cheerful profile pass his mind)—but soon we return to the truer issues, Ben’s own charisma for example, or his effortless formality (not that we’ve seen much of his effortless formality during this episode, but I assure you), or Ben’s bearing, accentuated and tender (somehow letting others know how important they are—his secret weapon during A-level assignments and a key ingredient of his alchemy with Alex, I guess). And the nostrils, OMG, I failed to mention Ben’s breathing nostrils.
The longer this lasts the more it means. Now what? Alex will put his big hand on Ben’s thigh (Ben, as always, not wearing shorts but snug simple jeans). There won’t be any petting, it was a bit awkward last time. They get up. They embrace. Alex is obliged to make the first step because he’s the host. Or Ben, how about Ben taking the initiative by the graces of his effortless formality, e.g., unbuttoning Alex’s shorts. Alex reciprocates, outer legwear drops. They both wear Ben’s MuchachoMalos—we really had enough, never-ever will we mention this brand again—the unmentionables drop by sheer force of will. Ben wears white socks, which he’ll keep on during the proceedings (at Alex’s instigation, haha). Ben’s half-open Hawaii shirt, that’s a task for Alex, the three buttons left. Now Alex raises his arms, and Ben peels the green tank shirt from his lover’s torso. For the next eternity, they will undress like that, each other, each night, up there on their own, private cloud bank.
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Michael Ampersant lives in Southern France and writes laconic-erotic prose. His short stories have appeared on the pages of Temptation Magazine, EtherBooks, Gay Flash Fiction, The Bear Review, LustSpiel Magazine, and Bunbury.
His first novel, GREEN EYES,
was a finalist in the Lambda Literary Awards last year.
The sequel, THIS IS HEAVEN, is available on Amazon.
More stories by Michael Ampersant
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